American and British wedding speech styles
British, Irish & Australian weddings tend to feature longer speeches than American weddings.
While there are distinct differences between British and American weddings, there are also differences between the speeches. Wedding speeches are generally known as toasts in America and, in the main, the Americans tend to follow the instructions to be sincere, be brief and be seated. While this is not altogether a bad thing, it is traditional in British weddings that the speeches are the highlight of the meal and are usually listened to with relish and much cheering at the appropriate amusing intervals.
British wedding speeches are set out in a fairly stylised format with the first speaker being the father of the bride, the groom, the father of the groom (if appropriate but not mandatory) with the best man as the final speaker. The wedding speeches in Britain are carefully prepared and rehearsed sometimes months in advance, whereas in America the ad hoc speech is acceptable. British wedding speeches tend to last between ten and fifteen minutes. American weddings are altogether more informal, as well as being a good deal shorter. In general, American toasts last between five and ten minutes, although there are always exceptions to the rule.
British wedding speeches are not often made by the bride's side, but in America the bride's entourage is much more vocal, with speeches coming from the mother of the bride, the bride and the matron of honour, or chief bridesmaid.
In addition to the difference in speeches or toasts, there are many other small differences between British and American weddings, for example in America the wedding cake is served as a dessert course, but not in Britain. In America, a rehearsal dinner the day before is common, unlike Britain. In Britain, ladies outfits focus on hats or more recently fascinators, not in America.
While the differences between British and American wedding traditions may be many, the custom of toasting the bride and groom with a glass in the hand and a heartfelt speech on the lips remains the same.